What are the 10 best Dreamcast games to play now?

January 23, 2012

Everyone does Top 10 Games lists. The problem with those? Usually, they’re full of games that earn a place because of nostalgia or industry significance. Here at Snackbar Games, we like being a little more practical: if you’re looking to just have fun, what games should you pick up and play today? In this installment, we look at Sega’s swan song: the Dreamcast.

Graham Russell: This game’s really two: the brain-bending single-player puzzler and the frantic multiplayer party game. Both use the same mechanic: place arrows, direct ChuChus to your rocket. But it’s a wonderful little game, and frankly, I’m surprised this hasn’t made an encore appearance on XBLA and PSN. (It is on iOS now, though, and that implementation is a solid one.) Play this one with friends: they may hate you afterward, but they’ll have fun along the way.

Andrew Passafiume: This is what I consider the pinnacle of 3D fighters. Soul Calibur might have been outclassed by its follow-up, but the original is different enough to warrant going back to. It’s still a great game for newcomers or those familiar with the other entries in the series. The Dreamcast version also has all of the features that were removed from the Xbox Live Arcade version released a couple of years back, including the addictive mission mode, which adds a lot of longevity to the game’s single player component. It feels as fresh as it did when it first debuted over ten years ago.

Matthew Jay: Before rhythm games became the laziest way to start a cover band, they needed a few more things than “hot trax from your favorite bands.” They needed style. Rather than co-opting someone else’s work, a lot of the best rhythm games from back in the day had a style all their own and were instantly recognizable. If you gave me a screenshot from Rock Band and Guitar Hero, I probably wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. Space Channel 5 has an intoxicating soundtrack, brilliant colors and Michael Jackson.

Gerry Pagan: Taking in all the common RPG tropes and taking them in stride, Skies of Arcadia has earned all of its cult accolades for a reason. Sporting a lovable cast of characters, an interesting world and battle system along with a great variation of the typical pirate story, Skies is one of those games that didn’t necessarily reinvent the genre, but made the best of what they had to the fullest extent. The game is a must play for every RPG fan, even with its few quirks and oddities. It’s a shame the most we’ll see out of this game again is a cameo in Valkyria Chronicles.

Matthew Jay: There are people in this world who can one-credit Ikaruga. Seriously, they exist. I’vet met them. These people are freaks of nature. Mastering this game requires muscle memory far beyond my comprehension. Like most of the best challenging 8 and 16-bit, Ikaruga is based around trial and error until the game path is programmed into your brain. It requires commitment and skill. My dumb hands and brain have never been able to do it, but if it’s your thing there are few better shmups to spend your time with.

Graham Russell: Over the years, a number of games have tried to capture the type of party-fighter success that Super Smash Bros. has enjoyed, and none have come closer than this Dreamcast sequel. With the crucial addition of two more players, the game became much more about having fun and fighting and much less about being the first one to collect all the stones and unleash the game-winning special move. It’s too bad the series has only seen a PSP port, as a full-fledged multiplayer Power Stone-fest is just about what we need right now.

Andrew Passafiume: This might not be the version of Rez everyone in North America is most familiar with, but the game stands the test of time on any system. It’s a musical trip unlike any other, including the recently released Child of Eden, which shares similarities but feels like a different game altogether. Thanks to the incredible soundtrack and the strange, but oddly appealing visual aesthetics, this game is one that stands the test of time like no other. You won’t find another experience like it on the Dreamcast.

Graham Russell: Though most missed it, this game is practically the Gauntlet Legends of space shooters. This is weird to type, but it’s also the most precise description I can give. You fly around, shooting things, completing missions and upgrading your ship’s capabilities. There were different races, different upgrade trees and all sorts of crazy things that you wouldn’t expect to get mixed in with a game of Asteroids.

Matthew Jay: Things used to be so simple. We liked our characters cute, our music catchy and our game peripherals easy to use. Before Rocksmith required you to plug an actual guitar into your console, Samba de Amigo just had two maracas you could shake to the beat. No real learning curve, it just took a little bit of rhythm. A thing I don’t have. But I love this game all the same. This is also a title that has not been made obsolete by its remake. The Wii port cut corners, lost some of the best songs, and surprisingly the Wii remote is much less accurate than the maraca controllers. If you’re going to track this down, make sure you get the whole package.

Andrew Passafiume: 3rd Strike isn’t as popular as Street Fighter II or IV, but its differences make it a fighting game worth experiencing. As mentioned with Soul Calibur, 3rd Strike stands on its own as a fighting game despite being on the Dreamcast, with a library that has 2D fighters aplenty. That being said, few fighting games on the system are as tight or mechanically sound as this. On top of that you have a very diverse roster and plenty of training modes available, making this a fighting game still worth playing.

What do you think of our picks? Agree? Disagree? What did we miss? Let us know in the comments!

{ 8 comments }

Chris Ingersoll January 23, 2012 at 7:55 am

Skies was awesome, but from what I understand the DC version is a lot less playable than the GCN remake/reissue.

Chris Ingersoll January 23, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Also, Matt — if you want a solid rhythm game with trippy/unique style, see if you can dig up Gitaroo-Man for PS2.

JGA Potter January 23, 2012 at 1:29 pm

I second this recommendation to play Gitaroo Man if you have not already.

Eric Albuen January 23, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Love the list for this. Personally would’ve tossed Project Justice in there, but that’s just me.

My only problem with Third Strike being on this list is that it’s inferior to the PSN/360 version since it wasn’t a perfect arcade port.

JGA Potter January 23, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Yeah I’d say it’s pretty definitive. Could use some more Dynamite Cop and Cannon Spike though.

corvak January 23, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Arcadia why you gotta be so rare?

Eric Albuen January 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Haha, I found a copy near me for the DC. I can’t justify $50 at a shady game store for it though.

Chris Ingersoll January 23, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Holy CRAP. Even the GCN version is like $150!

Apparently I have a ton of GCN games that have become stupidly rare…